A few weeks ago, my dad gave me a hand-crank pasta machine that he hadn't used very much, hoping, perhaps, that a new machine would cure me of my curious wafflemania. It worked like a charm. I am now totally pastamanic.
This weekend, while fiddling around with the machine, I decided to make filled pasta. But there was one problem. I had no ricotta, no ground meats, no beautiful vegetable purées with which to fill my pasta. But there was a fresh carton of plain, whole-milk greek yogurt. Why couldn't that be a filling for tortellini or ravioli? Friends. Friends! It can be a filling for tortellini. A gorgeous, silky, tart filling. When both my husband and my son (he of long months of entrenched mistrust of all things pasta) devoured it and asked for more, I knew I had a winner on my hands.
And so my husband and I put together this wee (ok, "wee" is a bit misleading, since this thing clocks in at 20 minutes) video tutorial illustrating from start to finish how to make the semolina pasta dough I used (no eggs!), the filling (eggs here!), and the classic tortellini shape. This was our first crack at making a video. I hope you guys like it. But be forewarned. There is a fair amount of 1) me talking and 2) my ghostly pale skin throughout this video; only the brave should venture forward:
Basic Pasta Dough
1 cup durum semolina flour
1/2 t salt
1/3 - 1/2 c water
Pour the semolina flour onto a work surface (I use my maple cutting board), and add the salt, stirring a bit with your fingers to combine.
Make a well in the center of the flour.
Pour a couple of tablespoons of water into the well, and begin incorporating the flour into the water. Continue adding water until you've incorporated almost all of the flour. Knead any remaining flour in, and continue kneading for about 5 minutes, until supple and smooth. Set aside to rest (wrapped in plastic or in a plastic bag) for at least 20 minutes (and up to 1 day).
Roll out using a pasta machine, allowing rolled-out pasta to rest on a sheet tray (lightly dusted with semolina), covered under a towel. Cut into desired shape. Plain pasta cooks in well-salted boiling water in 60-90 seconds.
Greek Yogurt Tortellini
1/2 c whole-milk Greek yogurt (plain)
1/2 c grated pecorino romano (more or less is fine--just do it to your taste)
2 egg yolks
1 recipe Basic Pasta Dough
Combine the yogurt, pecorino, egg yolks, and pepper. Stir vigorously.
Using a circle cutter, cut 1-3/4" or larger rounds from your pasta dough, setting aside any scraps under a damp cloth (these can be run through your pasta machine again).
Put a very small dollop of filling in the center of each round. Moisten the edges of the pasta, and fold it in half, crimping the edges closed with your fingers. Make a dimple in the flat edge of the half-round you just created, and pull the two corners around to meet each other, crimping them together.
Place completed tortellinis on a sheet tray dusted with semolina (to prevent sticking). At this point, tortellini can be flash frozen or cooked right away. 90 seconds in rapidly boiling water is plenty, unless they're frozen, in which case 2 minutes should be about right.
Serve with a little butter and black pepper. Or if you're feeling really decadent, with a sprinkling of truffle salt. You could also serve these in broth (the traditional Italian preparation) or cold on toothpicks (the traditional Donna Reed preparation).